As IEEE Spectrum reports, NASA has developed what it calls the Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) using Mars rover tech in its design. It takes Mars rover mobility and control systems to create a vehicle that delivers drive to each of its four wheels with independent propulsion modules, unlike a conventional all-wheel drive system that usually delivers drive from a single powertrain. Each of the wheels also has its own steering system that can rotate up to 180 degrees for levels of agility not previously seen. In addition to a regular steering wheel, the test bed vehicle is also fitted with a multi-axis joystick that allows the MRV to drift in a way that a conventional steering system simply cannot manage.
While this mobility system isn’t necessarily something we might see in a regular passenger vehicle, there could be a market for this technology in an industry like the mining sector, where fine levels of control and maneuverability in off-road and tight spaces could prove useful. It is also possible that similar technology could be deployed in off-road vehicles for those who like to navigate tough terrain where even an otherwise specialized four-wheel drive vehicle might not dare to tread.
With humans getting more serious about Mars exploration and potentially even sending manned rovers to Mars in the next decade, expect to see more Martian technology finding its way back to daily life back here on Earth.